The Dark Carnival

The Gold Lion of Ormanlac

May 27-June 9

Ship to Frost Giants leaves in morning. It’s to be a 2 week voyage.

On voyage, Dareth notices a crewmember staring oddly into the water, swaying back and forth. To himself “That’s unusual.”
Dareth checks on him. He thinks there is a mermaid down in that water. He saw a beautiful face looking at him out of the water, then it disappeared “I’m just trying to get another look at her.”
“Best let mermaids be good sir.” Then a splash in the sea, and he yells “Look there she is, I gotta go see her!” And goes to climb over but Dareth stops him.
D “Pull yourself together sailor, snap out of it.” He slaps him twice.
He points “look there she is!” Dareth refuses to look “Some help over here, quartermast!” Rags stands up and assists in getting the man away from the edge.
D “Nobody look in the water, I think something is in there” and calls for the captain. The thing rises from the water, a sea serpent with a beautiful face where its serpent head should be. It leaps up to the ship’s edge, biting the love lorn crewman! DEAD!
D “Captain, get you men away from the edge of the ship!”
The captain yells full sail!
The thing wraps around the body and sinks with it into the depths.

June 10

Arrive at Rimkirk, port town on eastern tip of the coast.

June 11

Cool for a summer day even here, but clear and sunny. Travel is arranged for tomorrow morning.

June 12

Leave for Ormanlac.

June 13

Arrive Ormanlac tween lunch and supper. Explains the circumstances:
He was put here by his king Svein of the northmen, claimant of this island. He himself is a halfbred Viking and ‘scot’. Low population here so brought all his family, belongings and belongings to this new keep. They travelled ahead of the supplies. Said wagontrain was hit by Frost Giants on the way, and personal belongings stolen. Among them and only thing he really cares to recover is a 3’ tall golden statue of a lion, family heirloom. They’ve been in contact with the FG, and are willing to pay ransom for the lion. It’s set that an envoy, hence us, will meet with them to pay the ransom and recover the lion. He wanted people of strength to handle a potential double cross. He is willing to pay. We have a couple days, all supplies will be provided, before we need to leave. Local guide included to the meeting place. 4 day walk to the appointed spot.
He has to send a signal to the FG to let them know when we are leaving. No real date set up. Noonish for the meeting. No idea of the numbers they will send to the meeting.
He offers 750gp per man. We would prefer a daily price in case of a chase/search for it. If we find loot, our price will be taken off it. It’s a deal.
He has a large banquet for us this evening to celebrate our heroism. We eat heartily, Garth the Bold shocks all at his ability to consume meat. He once won a boar eating contest vs an Ogre. Wages paid upon our return.

June 14

We gather supplies and meet our guide Shamus, in his late 30’s. He has lived here his whole life. No help in a serious fight, but knows the wild better than any other here.
Duke tells Dareth he entrusts the ransom money to him to hold.
The trails will not accomodate horses, only supply mules of which we will take a few. Our mounts will be stabled here.
We leave tomorrow morning westward. He will send the signal today, a raven they supplied that will fly back to their place.
Where their lair is, no one knows.
We don’t get any sense of untrustworthiness from the Duke.

June 15

On the road. Cool but good travel weather.

June 16

Still nice.

June 17

Windy but still nice.

June 18

Mid 60’s, light rain. Noon today is the meeting, a clearing on a hillside. Approaching it, we see no giants yet.
Shamus “Looks like we’ve beat the giants here.”
Moments later, a horn blows loudly nearby and west. From the clouds, a winged shape swoops downward.
Dareth and Tom “Its a dragon!”
It descends into the forest maybe half mile away, treetops sway and topple around it.
Erik instinctively watches our rear for a moment.
The dragon leaps into the air, definitely a white dragon, taking off westward. Another horn from the area it had landed.
Tom wonders if Ormanlac is no more.
Dareth notices it was carrying a bag in its claws, rather large.
Garth the Bold “Like 3’ tall lion sized?”
Dareth “I’d say so.”
We make for the landing site and horn call quickly.

Once we get close, Erik stealthily takes the point. 2 dead giants with 2 others wounded and looking upward on guard. He returns and reports.
We walk right to them, telling them who we are and we saw the dragon hit them.
Ragnar does the initial talking.
They are very on guard, prepared to fight us, initially assuming we set this up as an ambush to get the lion back. The knights with difficulty talk them down, Dareth taking the lead.
They confirm the dragon took the statue, and it lives in the midst of the nearby glacier past the ice canyons. They avoid it because of the hot worms that live there. Sir Garth even has no guess as to what these may be, nor do the blue crew.
They want to take their dead back home. A friend of theirs nearby who spends a lot of time in the hills on his own should have heard their warning horn, and could be heading for the glacier already.
Sir Garth “He’s going to go after it, by himself?”
“He might.” His name is Velg the Dragon Tamer. Supposedly he fought dragons in his youth.
Evan “Shamus, know you where this glacier is?” He does, about a days travel to the west. Then we still have to find the glacier.
Garth the Bold is gleeful at our daily pay deal now! And something he can hold over Vic, having killed a dragon.
Erik says the rain is going to get worse tomorrow at least, and a temp drop.
The FG will not let us go with them. We move out immediately.

June 19

Afternoon we approach edge of glacier, chilly and light rain, exiting treeline. About 200’ ahead we see 2 FG sitting at a camp eating deer.
Ragnar “Want to whack them?”
Dareth “Not really, we could use them to fight a dragon.”
We approach as a group to greet them, hailing them from a distance, Dareth and Tom at the front. One of them hurls a giant snowball at Tom, hitting him dead on.
Garth the Bold laughs hysterically.
The other starts rolling snowballs for the next throw.
Sir Garth “Well, this is unusual.”
Tom yells we come to parlay but is hit with another one.

Back into the treeline we retreat to a hearty laugh from the FG’s who proceed to eat again.

Shamus and Erik are sent to look for a path onto the glacier.
Sir Garth yells from the trees “Are you Velg Dragon Tamer?”
‘Yes I am!"
“Stop throwing snowballs at us! We’re here for the white dragon, sent by the Duke to get the lion back!"
He is on his way to kill it himself.
Dareth “Perhaps we should join forces, it is a dragon after all!”
He calls us “small ones” to join him by the fire.

He pats Tom on the back “Sorry about that funnery little boy”. Tom is not happy.
They share the venison with us. Zim is his associate. He is about to make his way across the glacier to defeat Whildenstrank, the dragon. He offers some warnings for the trip across the glacier. First, be wary of ice canyons; then the hot worms we have heard about. They melt weapons, so use ranged attacks against them. There are also cold worms, with a stunning schrill. They will leave in the morning for their conquest of the dragon. He may be persuaded to combine forces. But, he demands the dragons hide and half his treasure other than the golden lion.
We agree to those terms.
We camp here for the night for a fresh start in the morning. We warn him of the weather tomorrow, he is unconcerned personally. He’s willing to wait one more day.

The weather is moving in as we speak.
Erik and Shamus build proper shelters with their help.
Velg is a proper ranger. He knows the glacier as well as one can and knows the area in which the dragon lairs.
Erik tells him about Yanath and Sarge’s rangers, swaps ranger tales.

June 20

Hunker in, but for collecting firewood to take with us.

June 21

By morning its clear and we move out. Zim stays behind at the camp. Shamus heads back for Ormanlac alone and report.
Eastern edge is mostly flat ice, relatively safe. Few inches of snow and slush on surface. Across glacier we can see a black volcanic spire. Velg “That’s where we are headed.”
Some of us hear a low rumbling sound ahead of us, ice shifting about 100’ ahead.
Erik “Something’s burrowing!” Toward us.
Evan to the rangers “Should we gather or separate?”
Velg “Normally the worms aren’t this close to the rim.”
Dareth calls to get in a line, so it can’t come up under too many of us at once, and we can close in any direction immediately. We flank Velg and Garth. Tom and Sir Garth on their left with Max and Fritz in front and behind Tom, respectively; Ragnar and Evan on his right, Erik and Dareth to front and rear of Ragnar respectively.
A Bullet bursts from the ice in front of each of Erik and Max and savagely attack. We swarm them, Erik taking a beating.
Erik and Garth the Bold give the finishing blows. The ice beneath us shifts, knocking us all to the ground. The surface crackles more and more beneath us!
Velg, Garth the Bold, Erik all get clear; Tom, Dareth and Sir Garth get ahead of Evan and the Blues, barely getting clear themselves; but the last 3 behind are caught in the collapse!! Battered by falling ice upon them and buried!! Max taking the worst. Fritz and Evan get off easy, buried under 1 and 3 feet only, at the edges. Max however is 6’ down!
Velg rushes forward, digging for Max. Tom and Sir Garth get Fritz out, while Dareth and Ragnar get Evan. Velg gets Max out fast enough, he’s KO’d.
After a short breather we move on.

The flat glacier becomes ravines of cracks in the ice, a path w/in which we follow. By that time its near dusk. The canyon floor is coated with ice dust, revealing tracks. Erik inspects, believes they are that of a large wolf moving ahead of us.
Velg “We should probably camp here for tonight.”
Dareth “Agreed.”
The night is windy, and a faint howl of wolves, as well as frost G horns in the further distance. Otherwise, the night in uneventful.

June 22

Moving forward, then a loud roar, a scream, and sounds of combat from around the next turn! Sound many pieces of small ice shattering on the ground.
Dareth “I hope that isn’t the sounds of an icy breathweapon.”
We rush forward but not around the bend w/o looking first.
A huge segmented beast ahead of us!! Entire area covered in ice, but it does not seem to be moving.
Velg says that’s one of the heat worms. The roar came from it, but not the screach, that sounded like one of the cold worms.
Dareth calls for all to be on guard, the ice worm may have killed this one, and could still be around.
Sir Garth “Do the ice worms burrow as well?”
Velg "Yes, both worms burrow?
Garth the Bold “Can they feel us walking on the ice? Can they sense our tremors?”
Not as far as V knows of the cold worms, but he thinks the heat worms can.
We move forward carefully, inspecting the scene, and it is clearly dead. Both Garth’s keep a sharp eye out while we survey the area.
Dareth, Evan and Fritz gather some facts of the scene, and Velg and Erik put it all together. There is a large would on it, as well as what looks like dozens if not hundreds of dagger marks. The shards seem to have come from an explosion with an epicenter in which the fire worm lies dead.
Velg “Well, let’s move on. There is a dragon to kill.”
He estimates only half of us will die at its hands “which isn’t bad for small things. But your names will live on in the stories I tell about my defeat of the dragon.”
Onward.

Ahead, Dareth’s elven eyes notine a large white wolf blending in with the snowy wall of the ravine, watching us but staying ahead of us. He steps forward, whispering to the 2 Garth’s. Velg turns “Hey anybody else see that wolf up ahead?” Dareth nods yes.
Erik “Winter wolf?”
Velg insists it was likely looking for food, Dareth insists otherwise.

Velg and Erik’s direction sense lead us in a generally western direction.
Dareth “Keep extra alert now.”

Suddenly, the ground ice breaks open behind Fritz and a Heat Worm bursts upon us, lashing out at him and grabbing him in its maw!!!
Velg “Shoot it, don’t fight it!” Dareth “Ragnar try to pull him out”, Evan and Dareth fire upon it, but Max being right next to it. Ragnar turns and attacks with his greatsword.
Fritz is promptly swallowed whole!
Garth boldly throws his warhammer, Velg a boulder. Erik moves forward to engage next round as Tom turns and attacks and SLAYS IT!!
Velg says the very act of hitting it could destroy your weapon outright, we are very l lucky. Erik, Tom and Max cut Fritz out of the belly in time to save his life. He has never felt such heat in his life.
Erik realizes now what these people call a heat worm is a remorhaz to us.
Velg “Ah! The little ones survived. A fine job. Onward!”

We come to an intersection of ice spires as tall as the ravine walls, several caverns leading away as well in various directions. Dareth stops sudddenly “look!” Standing right up against onee of the columns of ice appears to be a giant icy worm!!!
He moves up and points it out to Velg “Ho! It is, its a cold worm.” Just as he is saying that we hear it’s screaching sound. All but Sir Garth, Tom, Fritz and Velg stand unable to move, stunned by the trilling screech.
Sir Garth moves forward, hoping the stun is temp, gets ready to take the brunt of its brutality. Fritz violently shakes Max trying to free him from this condition: it works!! He starts recovering.
It engages Sir Garth who attacks, striking Sir G as Velg counterattacks.
Max now charges into the fray; Fritz wakes Evan from his stupor!!
The worm turns to Max next, hitting him as well. Velg then brings his axe to bear heavily upon it, it wails in pain. Garth misses completely but Max hits it for 2 max damage slashes.
Evan fires his bow hitting once as Fritz now awakens BTT. The worm slides back 5’ then unlleashes a cone of cold, hitting Sir G, Velg, Erik and Dareth. Velg is immune, but the helpless Erik and Dareth are hit with the full brunt; Sir G makes his save for half. That snaps Dareth out of it.
Velg cleaves it 2 more times DEAD!!!! It then explodes in a torrent of ice!!! Eeh gads!!!! This is what happened to the dead fire worm we found.
Its trilling done, all other wake up just in time for it. Fritz, Tom, Ragnar and Garth the B are outside of the area, Evan is just caught up in it. Evan takes a beating, Dareth saves but with the previous damage it otherwise would have killed him. Max is dropped as well as Erik.
Velg “You puny little things hahahaha!”
It’s time to camp. Garth the Bold, amongst the pillars of ice, stumbles across a mound of oval shaped ice formations while the others are resting. “Hey, those are eggs!” Frost worm eggs.
Velg says cold worms can be raised to be a pet. Soon as the baby comes out of the egg, they parents skip out. But, if you take care of them they will form an attachment.
Evan “There is the problem of feeding a cold worm.”
Velg “Yes, and it won’t survive outside of cold climates.”
We’ll pick them up on the way out if we can.
Dareth “How much further you think, Velg?”
It’s been 4 hours so far we have been in the ravines. He guesses 6 to 8 hours total to get to the black spire, that’s if we have been going in the correct direction. Which he and Erik agree we have been.

We have to recover from our wounds though. After a long rest, we must push onward. Velg and Erik continue leading us, judging direction and continuing to agree. We come out of the ice ravines about 2 hours later at the foot of the towering Black Spire!
Garth the B “So this is where the dragon lives, huh?”
A narrow footpath, about 10’ wide on average, leads up the side of the mt to the cave entrance.
Fritz “A dragon cave, very dangerous. You go first” to BTT.
Erik judges the path to be safe enough for foot travel. Who goes first?
Garth the Bold boldly steps forward “I shall lead the way!” He calls for BTT to join him if you dare.
BTT “Let us opress a dragon!”
Dareth and Erik next, Velg behind them; followd by Sir Garth/Evan; blue crew; Ragnar in the rear.
Moments into our ascent, 3 winter wolves approach from ahead. The lead asks us our business.
Dareth responds that we are here to recover a stolen golden lion for Ormanlac.
From behind we hear “Enough talk!” He rushes around the side on the slope and attacks the lead wolf!
Dareth holds us. The first 2 wolves attack Velg. The third wolf yells out “fiendish, treacherous, giants and humans! Why do you ambush us?”
Sir Garth “We haven’t made a move!”
Dareth “Velg, relax!”
Velg slays both wolves!!
Black T “That’s enouth now, Velg!”
Velg “They’ll warn the dragon, kill it!”
Tom charges the final wolf!
Dareth “Damn savages!”
Erik charges to Tom’s side. The wolf withdraws and flees up the path and into the cave entrance. Velg is in a rage, none too happy.
Velg “Now the dragon knows we’re coming!”
Dareth “Maybe you shouldn’t have gone nuts w/o everybody working together.”
With a grumble “Let’s get up and in before he attacks us out in the open.”

Upward we go with speed and into the tunnel, icycles hanging from its lip. The walls inside covered in ice, though the floor is clear and rock. It’s large, enough for Velg to easily enter and explore.
Velg “Look here, the dragon is going to be waiting for us at the end of this tunnel.” He says this isn’t a big exploration thing. He’s close. “From having seen you in combat recently” he has no confidence in our capabilities; but “if we can distract it enough so I can kill it” he will be sure to get us the golden lion back.
Yeah, like we believe that.
He warns anyone who doesn’t want to risk death “this is the place to stop” for white worms breath a cone of intense cold; he also thinks this one may be old enough to have a small amount of magic skill.
Dareth recommends sending a forward team to draw out any wolves and get the lay of the land first.
Velg “Not the strategy I would use, but being small people maybe that’ll work for you. Just try not to die.”
Dareth “Thanks for indulging us.”
“But your time is limited.”
Erik, Dareth, Rags and the Bold go forward.

Dareth insists again this adventure should have been all barbarians.
The tunnel leads slightly downward, then opens up into a large room, ringed by a dozen columns of ice. Our lantern light reflects off the icy walls, as well as gems, jewels and coins frozen in the columns themselves!! One is half formed, the head of the lion protruding from it!
The dragon looks at us from the middle of the room “You’ve come to my home, killed 2 of my wolves, what brings you to my lair, the brink of destruction?”
Dareth explains exactly why we are here and that we killed none of his wolves; offering the ransom money Dareth carries to have given to the giants.
He claims to be no mindless killer, willing to deal. 15000 gold is what he wants. Dareth negotiates, explaining our situation of not expecting anything having to do with a dragon, and no guarentees Svein will back any more than that after the fact. Offering the frost worm eggs is meaningless to him. He does say he liked diamonds. Dareth has a 1000gp diamond! Part of his loot from back home. He accepts! He breaks the lion out for us, and trades it straight up!
Then asks if the giant is alone, we confirm that so far as we know, yes.
“Well, our business here is concluded then unless you have anything else you need from me. If your giant friend is persistent on coming down here, I welcome the challenge.”
the Bold warns the dragon Velg is nothing to laugh at.
The dragon is none too worried.
the Bold thinks we should go back, tell everyone to come forward, and once the fight starts we take off with the lion. But he and Rags also wouldn’t mind helping the dragon vs Velg.
Dareth does not like being dishonorable though. We are going to go up and tell Velg we got what we wanted “Dragon’s all yours.”
Ragnar carries the lion.
Velg “I should have knows that you puny smallings would back out of a real fight when it came time for it. If I didn’t need all my strength to kill the dragon I’d kill you all right now” then warns us to stay out of his territory again or he will kill us.
The Bold and Rags want to wait for the fight to end, and if Velg lives finish him off.
Problem is we have a long haul out of the ravines, it would be a forced march.
Garth “See, we should have helped the dragon kill Velg.”
We need to get to where there is wood for fire, so its a forced march back to the treeline.

It’s up to Erik to lead us out. Ragnar, Btt, AND Garth the B are arguing about whether it is better to be big, demand control, or just do it, respectively.
Garth “Look I’m telling you, just grab it, and take it.”
Until Evan halts the group, then Dareth and Fritz feel it, too; then Erik: the hint of vibrations below us.
Evan “Nobody move or talk.”
All freeze in utter silence, ready to draw weapons at a moment’s notice. Still, it finds us. Tom flinches his weapon; Sir Garth’s foot slips ever so slightly in response to the noise that seems so much louder than it really is.
Evan puts up 2 fingers, he thinks there are 2.
Then a frost worm bursts for the 20’ away.
Dareth “Get ready to run” thinking its one of each. Barely a moment after he speaks a remhoraz explodes from the ice as well.
Dareth “RUN!! They’ll fighte each other!” We take off at top speed, Erik pointing the way. He chooses a second turn, when Dareth stops him “Take a breath, think for a minute, that was a quick decision you had to make back there. Get you bearrings, its almost dark. Make sure we are on the right track.”
Sure enough he realizes he took a wrong turn. Backtracking, he picks it back up again.
6 hours later, still not out. He must have taken a 2nd wrong turn at some point.
Dareth “We keep going.” Finally, around midnight, we come out of the ice!!! Couple hours later than hoped but not too bad.
Time to sleep. Rags unpacks the emergency supply of firewood collected before we left the treeline and we light a fire to dry off before anyone gets hypothermic. Garth the Bold and Ragnar are predicably handling things much better, environmentally, than the rest (other than the 2 blue crew).

June 23

After a full 8 hours sleep, the Bold and Rags keeping the fire going, we move onward over the glacier.

At the end of the day we get to the end of the glacier and treeline finding Zim right where we left him. We explain what happened, that we needed to get out being weak smallings. He hasn’t seen the dragon flying around, nor heard Velg’s horn. He is going ot wait here another day to see if one or the other appears before returning to their tribe.

We rest here with him tonight. He has some meat even!

June 24-27

Fresh, much rested and warmed, we awaken this morning and move for Ormenlac. Erik cuts us cross country to Ormanlac. Some of us are not looking forward to the trek. Garth the Bold is not in high spirits, for lack of tale worthy deeds on this excursion.

Uneventful travel.

June 28

Early evening/late afternoon finally arrive weary at Ormanlac, some of us more than others. The Duke is quite pleased to see us alive and even more so that his lion has been returned!!
There was much concern we were all killed, for Shamus has not returned!!
Garth the Bold is ready for his reward money. His accountant pays us as promised in gold and silver.
They will be sending out search parties for Shamus.
We rest up here all day.

Plenty of good food, ale, wine mead, etc. In conversation, Dareth mentions something rubbing him the wrong way. “How much is that lion really worth?” After thinking about it, Grimson thinks maybe a few thousandish. Dareth was thinking the same thing; the though occured to Tom on the way back but he estimate a little higher’ but all in the same ballpark independantly. Ambrinigan paid 10000 in ransom plus our pay. Why was he willing to spend so much on this thing?
the Bold “Magical?”
He definitely overpaid for what eyes can see.
Sir Garth “Something hidden inside?”
Evan “How did the weight feel, Ragnar?” Rags thinks it was heavy enough to have been solid, far as he could tell.

July 1

Both Garths, Ragnar and Erik join in the search. Garth the Bold is disappointed in this whole mission, always comparing himself to, and feeling as if compared with, Vic.
“What have we done? What have I done? We killed 2 worms, the lot of us. Nothing more! That bloodthirsty she demon kills things by the score! I need more!”

Notes:

Duke Ambrinigan of Ormanlac, there by claim of King Svein of the northern Viking kingdom. Golden lion stolen.
Our guide: Shamus, late 30’s
Velg: Frost G ranger
Zim: Velg’s partner

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